Wow New Orleans.
You have been the best “foodie” destination we have visited so far on our travels in the USA since moving over from Australia.
Seriously, we did not have a bad meal during our five day visit to The Big Easy, in which we ate out three times a day and have one very fussy six year old.
You may already know that the main reason for our trip to New Orleans was to experience Mardi Gras with our kids, and if you’re considering going to Mardi Gras, do it.
We absolutely loved experiencing Mardi Gras as a family and if you haven’t read our blog post with all our tips for Mardi Gras, you can do so here.
But today we’re talking about the incredible New Orleans FOOD.
When you think of New Orleans you might think of jazz music, of the party scene on Bourbon Street, of the architecture, and of course Mardi Gras.
But New Orleans consistently ranks as one of the best cities for foodies in the country. And eating your way through a destination is one of the best things about travel.
You can learn so much about a place and its people through its food. And by eating out in New Orleans it might just be the best way to experience the city.
Before our trip to New Orleans, we hadn’t eaten this much shrimp, oysters, and fish since we left Australia. And being Australians, we are picky when it comes to seafood and I’m happy to say that New Orleans does seafood very very well.
And it was our first time eating crawfish, a Louisiana favorite, and down below we share some great seafood restaurants in New Orleans to get your fix!
Our friends in Raleigh have a vacation property in New Orleans and visit often. They love it there and say New Orleans is unlike any city in America.
They especially love the cultural diversity, which is woven into the food, and we totally agree!
When you hear about food in New Orleans you’ve probably heard about Cajun and Creole food, which are both native to Louisiana.
But what exactly is it?
Cajun food is robust, rustic food, found along the bayous of Louisiana, a combination of French and Southern cuisines.
It was brought to Louisiana from the French who migrated to the state from Nova Scotia 250 years ago and used foods, right from the land.
Creole food is cosmopolitan food, created in New Orleans with European, African and Native American roots.
The French influence is strongest, but vestiges of Italian, Spanish, German, and even Caribbean can be found in some dishes.
Both Cajun and Creole can be found in many restaurants throughout New Orleans!
What to Eat in New Orleans?
Some of the famous New Orleans dishes that we ate, and are sharing tips down below on where to find them, are:
- Bananas foster
- Po-boys (one thing we didn’t eat due to gluten)
We visited NOLA in partnership with the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau, who have a wealth of tips for New Orleans on their website.
They helped us create a dining itinerary so we could experience some of the best restaurants in New Orleans.
Keep reading to follow in our footsteps so you can dine on some of the best food in New Orleans.
11 Places to Eat in New Orleans
1. Brennan’s Restaurant
If you love eating breakfast outside in cute courtyards, and authentic Creole cuisine, then you’ll love Brennan’s on Royal Street.
It’s one of the classic New Orleans French Quarter restaurants.
All four of us thoroughly enjoyed our breakfast in their gorgeous courtyard, a setting that made us feel like we were in Paris, and we could have sat there for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
Anytime we can sit outside with our kids, we jump at it, as it usually entails a more family-friendly vibe!
Their interior dining option looked lovely too, but sitting in the fresh air and sunshine was just too inviting!
- French toast for the kids (all kids meals includes a kid’s drink, fresh fruit, & a scoop of vanilla ice cream)
- Crawfish omelettes
- New Orleans style coffee (French Pressed Blend of Chicory & Dark Roast)
- Bananas Foster
Ok, mom and dad, don’t miss their famous Bananas Fosters!
If you’ve never had Bananas Foster before, or heard of it, it’s a must eat dish in New Orleans and is original to Brennan’s and the most ordered item off their menu.
It includes: bananas, rum, cinnamon, brown sugar and ice cream – and the cool thing is they cook it cooked in front of you at your table which is always fun.
And it was delicious!
For an iconic NOLA experience, dining at Brennan’s is a must on any places to eat in New Orleans list!
- Location: 417 Royal Street
Watch the video to see how you make Bananas Foster – A Brennan’s recipe
We finished our Mardi Gras with kids experience with a quiet and delicious seafood dinner at Briquette, one of the best new restaurants in New Orleans.
Located in the Warehouse district, Briquette is housed in the former Rodd Brothers Molasses Refinery, which dates from the 1800’s.
We loved the character of the place, contemporary yet casual. The tables and beams are all made from refurbished wood, there’s an open styled kitchen and a very cool looking wine display.
We ordered steamed Prince Edward mussels, oysters, Alaskan Halibut Fillet, whole black bass, and dark Chocolate Crème Brule.
It was the best seafood meal we’ve had since leaving our home in Australia to move to North Carolina!
- Location: 701 South Peters St
3. Cafe Du Monde
But even if you don’t have kids, this place is an institution in the French Quarter of New Orleans, right across the street from beautiful Jackson Square.
Cafe Du Monde was established in 1862 and is on every best places to eat in New Orleans list there is, for good reason.
Is it touristy? Yes, but this historic New Orleans cafe is touristy for a reason.
The Cafe is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and they are busy every single day so they must be doing something right!
Cafe Du Monde is a traditional coffee shop. Its menu consists of:
- Dark roasted Coffee and Chicory
- White and Chocolate Milk
- Freshly squeezed Orange Juice
The coffee is served Black or Au Lait, which means that it is mixed half and half with hot milk.
What is a Beignet?
A beignet (pronounced ben-yay) is a square French-style doughnut.
It’s a square piece of dough, fried and covered with powdered sugar. They are served in orders of three.
And your kids will love getting the powdered sugar all over their faces and your table – it comes with the scene!
Our kids ordered a serving of 3 (generously priced at three for $1.35), with a hot chocolate, whilst we settled for a coffee in a souvenir mug (we are avoiding gluten otherwise would have demolished our own serving).
There are no reservations at this open-air French Cafe, it’s first come, first served, and you sit yourself down until a white-jacket waiter attends to your table.
We recommend an outside table with a view overlooking Decatur Street and Jackson Square which adds to this quintessential New Orleans experience.
- Location: 800 Decatur St
4. Dickie Brennan’s Tableau
It just so happened that we were in New Orleans on Valentine’s Day, and dinner at Dickie Brennan’s Tableau was the perfect setting.
We don’t normally do “fancy” when eating out with our kids, and I guess dinner with a ten and six-year-old is not that romantic, but we loved this family experience and felt very welcomed.
Tableau is a member of the famed Brennan restaurant family and offers classic French-Creole cooking in an elegant 3-story townhouse with an open kitchen & balcony.
First of all, the location is fantastic, right on Jackson Square, and upstairs features balcony dining with a view of the Square.
There’s a grand staircase spanning the three stories connecting the dining rooms, plus courtyard seating – you can’t get a more authentic New Orleans dining experience than this.
We ate in the more formal downstairs dining room and had a lovely meal served by attentive and friendly staff.
Delicious starters include the Grand Royale (crabmeat ravigote, shrimp rémoulade, truffled crab fingers, oysters):
An example entree is the Chicken Tableau (herb roasted chicken breast, crispy thigh, potatoes Tableau, Béarnaise, chicken demi-glace):
Tableau is one of the great restaurants in New Orleans, and a dining experience that you’ll be sharing with family and friends that are planning their own trip to The Big Easy.
Oh, and if you love Mimosas, they serve bottomless Mimosas for $15 during brunch (with the purchase of an entrée)!
- Location: 616 St. Peter Street
5. Willa Jean
A fellow travel friend suggested Willa Jean, as did several of you from our online communities on Facebook and Instagram, and our first breakfast experience in New Orleans didn’t disappoint.
When you first enter, if you can get your kids to walk past the counter display of fresh bakery treats then grab a table in the cafe area and order off the menu.
Our kids ordered what I think was the thickest avocado on toast we have ever seen, whilst we went with a colorful and healthy quinoa bowl (quinoa + farro + white beans + avocado).
We then relented and allowed the kids to enjoy one of the chocolate chip cookies on display (it may have been two!)
What we liked about Willa Jean is that it offers a real locals vibe – just be warned this place was packed on weekends. And they served up GOOD coffee too! We loved it that much we ate there twice!
The restaurant and bakery serves breakfast, lunch and dinner throughout the week, and offers Saturday and Sunday brunch.
- Location: 611 O’Keefe Avenue
6. Casamento’s Restaurant
As you know, New Orleans is not short on seafood restaurants and if you’re looking for a casual but authentic experience consider Casamento’s.
Way back in 1919, Joe Casamento blended Italian tradition and Louisiana seafood to create this New Orleans icon.
The interior is not fancy or modern, making for a super casual and affordable dining experience on fresh local seafood.
We ordered oysters on the half shell, crab claws, fried calamari and trout with fresh homemade fries.
Casamento’s is one of the top places to eat in New Orleans for authentic and affordable fresh seafood.
Casamento’s does not take reservations and is cash-only. Closed June, July and August and all Major Holidays.
- Location: 4330 Magazine St
7. Joey K’s Restaurant & Bar
One of the best things to do in New Orleans is explore the Garden District, a neighborhood famous for its 19th century homes and beautiful gardens.
We timed our visit for just after lunch. After we hopped off the streetcar from downtown at the intersection of St. Charles Avenue and Washington Avenue we headed to Joey K’s.
This place came recommended by other locals and is a cool space decorated with lots of fun slogans and festive phrases.
It’s nice and casual with homestyle Creole eats and po’ boys and really good lunch specials.
Apparently they have the best red beans and rice in town. We settled for a good Jambalaya!
- Location: 3001 Magazine St
8. Grand Isle Restaurant & Oyster Bar
The Grand Isle Restaurant & Oyster Bar, located just outside the French Quarter, was our first dinner experience in New Orleans and a nice introduction of what was to come seafood wise!
We wandered around the lower part of the French Quarter after our first day of Mardi Gras parades before stopping for dinner at the Grand Isle.
The Gulf waters around Grand Isle have been the place to find the finest quality fish and seafood in the country, and our first dinner in New Orleans hit the spot nicely.
On the menu for us: shrimp, oysters, PEI Mussels (white wine, garlic & saffron broth, malt vinegar aioli) and a hearty Fishermen’s Stew (gulf fish, shrimp, calamari, mussels, creole seafood broth & brown rice).
We found Grand Isle to be a real family-friendly New Orleans restaurant.
- Location: 575 Convention Ctr. Blvd
9. Morning Call
We met a lovely local family on Mardi Gras Day who invited us for a play date with their kids at City Park, which is awesome by the way!
Besides all the fun activities you can do in City Park such as rent pedal boats or kayaks, play mini-golf, ride a carousel or miniature train, and visit Storyland’s colorful storybook sculptures, it’s also home to Morning Call which serves beignets, and New Orleans style coffee, the classic café au lait, 24 hours a day!
Also on the menu are other NOLA favorites like jambalaya and gumbo.
Our kids did prefer the beignets at Cafe Du Monde, but Morning Call has shorter lines and the prime location within City Park.
Whilst the kids indulged in more beignets, we tried a gator sausage (when in New Orleans).
We’ve eaten croc before, and had kangaroo sausages back home in Australia, but this was our first time eating gator.
Morning Call is located right in the middle of City Park and the locals have been going here for nearly 150 years.
NOTE: It’s cash only here (ATM on site).
- Location: 1 Palm Drive
10. The Galley
Speaking of our friends from Mardi Gras Day, after our play date at City Park they took us to dinner at The Galley, one of their favorite seafood restaurants in New Orleans.
Now this is a real locals restaurant, and popular too, especially known for their crawfish tails!
We dined on a Friday night and folks were lined up out the door into the car park waiting for a table, enjoying a cold beer and a chit chat in the process.
There’s seating inside and out, a super casual atmosphere, and the food was fresh and plenty of it.
We let our friends order for us, and boy did they order some food. I think we had like 8 lbs of crawfish, plus shrimp, corn on the cob, pork sausage and potatoes.
The Galley is also the home of the famous soft shell crab and catfish filet po-boys served at The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival since 1977.
It is a 20-minute drive from the city center, so you will need a car.
But if you’re looking to get out into the neighborhoods, put this restaurant on your places to eat in New Orleans for seafood list!
- Location: 2535 Metairie Road
11. The Daily Beet
Almost across the street from Willa Jean is The Daily Beet, and we also stopped in here twice for a quick breakfast.
Not Creole or Cajun, but if you’re in this area and looking for a healthy cafe serving salads, grain bowls, cold-pressed juices, and smoothies check this place out.
- Location: 1000 Girod St
New Orleans is a fantastic all-round destination that offers incredible music, festivals, history, people and food.
Whenever you go, plan on eating your way through The Big Easy.